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Flights/Points Question - Cost vs. Convenience. What would you do?

Flights/Points Question - Cost vs. Convenience. What would you do?

Old May 30, 16, 12:51 pm
  #1  
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Flights/Points Question - Cost vs. Convenience. What would you do?

Going to London in September for a few days, and looking at options to get home (NYC). Want to spend the least amount of actual cash possible, but also fly home in a class better than economy. Here are some options I've come up with. Interested in people's opinions and also if anybody has other ideas that I missed that are cheaper/better.

1. Transfer 21k Amex points to Virgin (currently 30% bonus), fly home in Premium Economy, pay stupid Heathrow "departure tax" and even stupider Virgin "fuel surcharge" of roughly $395 ($100 of which I can knock off by using my Arrival+ and redeeming 10k points I have left over).

2. Transfer 31k Amex points to Virgin (currently 30% bonus), fly home in Upper Class, pay Heathrow "departure tax" and Virgin "fuel surcharge" of roughly $472 (same -$100 with Arrival+).

3. EuroStar to Paris for $70, free hotel night near CDG, fly back next morning in business class for 57.5k United points + $171 in taxes/fees.

I have enough points in any programs I want/need to be able to book hotel nights and or flights (Chase, Amex, Citi, SPG, Hilton, Marriott, IHG, etc).

EDIT: I should add that this would be either to fly home afternoon/evening of 9/13 or morning of 9/14.

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by aeg42; May 30, 16 at 2:14 pm Reason: adding information
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Old May 30, 16, 1:54 pm
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You might want to ask the moderators to change the title of this to a more specific topic so people know what you're asking. (I.e., deciding between options for London to NY)

This is a very personal decision, as everyone values points vs. money vs. time vs. class of service differently.
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Old May 30, 16, 2:15 pm
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Updated title... and yes ultimately the decision rests with me, for sure. Was just curious how other people think about these things. Cost vs. time/convenience, valuation of certain types of points/miles and also one airline vs. another. Plus I thought the well-traveled folks here might be able to give me some other alternate ideas. :)
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Old May 30, 16, 2:37 pm
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#2 for me, in a heartbeat.
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Old May 30, 16, 3:23 pm
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CDG is a horrible airport however of the two I'd do number 2 or better still fly to DUB (Ryanair currently £10) and fly back from there.
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Old May 30, 16, 3:35 pm
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CDG so much worse than LHR? Also, RyanAir is THAT cheap to Dublin? Hmm... may have to look into that...
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Old May 30, 16, 4:50 pm
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Originally Posted by aeg42 View Post
CDG so much worse than LHR? Also, RyanAir is THAT cheap to Dublin? Hmm... may have to look into that...
In addition to RyanAir, an award seat from LON to DUB on BA costs just 4,000-4,500 BA Avios + $28, with one free checked bag included.
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Old May 30, 16, 4:58 pm
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There is no "Heathrow departure tax".

There is a United Kingdom Air Passengers Duty for those originating at a U. K. airport (Inverness and Belfast are excepted from APD) or if your connecting flight is 24 hours or over.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...er-thread.html

France has a "Solidarity Tax", though it isn't as high as the UK APD.

You can fly to DUB, originate your trip there (sometimes even for less than starting at LHR) and connect at LHR - no APD.
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Old May 30, 16, 9:15 pm
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How is that different from what I said? Also, the tax is higher from Heathrow than other airports. "Departure tax" = "tax for flights originating in the UK" :)
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Old May 30, 16, 9:37 pm
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I was about to mention this. I saved ~125USD flying out of LGW to JFK (direct) instead of from LHR. It didn't hurt that the timing of the flight was better than what BA has out of LCY & LHR on the day I wanted to travel.
The UK has its APD and LHR has higher fees.

Also personally I'd go with VS Upper Class and enjoy the lounge and flight for rather minimal cost.

Originally Posted by aeg42 View Post
How is that different from what I said? Also, the tax is higher from Heathrow than other airports. "Departure tax" = "tax for flights originating in the UK"

Last edited by Yoshi212; May 30, 16 at 9:39 pm Reason: add info
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Old May 30, 16, 11:32 pm
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Originally Posted by aeg42 View Post
How is that different from what I said? Also, the tax is higher from Heathrow than other airports. "Departure tax" = "tax for flights originating in the UK"
A tax is collected by the government. The taxes due on departing LHR and LGW are the same.

LHR has a higher service charge than LGW. This is a fee to use the airport, collected by the airport. It is not a tax.


If you want to maximize your time in London I would just go for the Virgin UC redemption.

CDG and LHR are both ok when they aren't busy. But if you aren't going to visit Paris then I wouldn't waste a hotel night at CDG. You can use the points/free night somewhere you actually want to go. It looks like going direct and going via CDG are going to cost you roughly the same amount anyway so why bother?

If you decide that you want to spend time connecting to reduce the cost then I would look for Aer Lingus paid flights or redemptions (think you need to phone BA for this). I don't think ex-DUB one-way paid flights are much cheaper, and as for TATL redemptions involving LHR, the LHR service charge is still due even if UK APD is not.

Another option on oneworld is Airberlin from DUS/TXL, which are easy to get to from LHR on BA -but:

Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
In addition to RyanAir, an award seat from LON to DUB on BA costs just 4,000-4,500 BA Avios + $28, with one free checked bag included.
if the OP doesn't have an existing BA account or hasn't used it in a year, the full taxes and charges will be due, which would be approaching $100.
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Old May 31, 16, 6:01 am
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Originally Posted by aeg42 View Post
Updated title...
Unfortunately, you didn't. You updated the heading on the first post. That's all you can do by yourself. The thread title in the list of threads on the main forum page hasn't changed.

Only moderators can change thread titles. They do a great job, but they don't always have the time to go through every thread to see if its title should be changed. To ask one to change this thread's title, click the "Alert a Moderator" exclamation point in a red circle under your name in the first post. You'll get a dialogue box in which you can make this request.
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Old May 31, 16, 6:18 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by aeg42 View Post
2. Transfer 31k Amex points to Virgin (currently 30% bonus), fly home in Upper Class, pay Heathrow "departure tax" and Virgin "fuel surcharge" of roughly $472 (same -$100 with Arrival+).

3. EuroStar to Paris for $70, free hotel night near CDG, fly back next morning in business class for 57.5k United points + $171 in taxes/fees.
#2 is $231 (ignoring the -$100) more than #3, but you are only spending 31k MR vs 57.5 UA miles, saving the time getting to Paris, and not spending the points for a 'free hotel night' which could be used at another time.

Unless you really want to travel on UA over VS via CDG then #2 seems the obvious choice.

If you value UA miles the same as Amex MRs, you could use them for a statement credit to make #2 a nil cash cost option and still be better than #3.
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Old May 31, 16, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
Only moderators can change thread titles. They do a great job, but they don't always have the time to go through every thread to see if its title should be changed. To ask one to change this thread's title, click the "Alert a Moderator" exclamation point in a red circle under your name in the first post. You'll get a dialogue box in which you can make this request.
When you create a new thread, you can change the title within five minutes of creation.

After that, as Efrem states, the ability to edit the thread title is restricted to moderatords only.
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Old May 31, 16, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by aeg42 View Post
Going to London in September for a few days, and looking at options to get home (NYC). Want to spend the least amount of actual cash possible, but also fly home in a class better than economy. Here are some options I've come up with. Interested in people's opinions and also if anybody has other ideas that I missed that are cheaper/better.
One thing to be aware of (if you do not have elite status that always puts in these seats already):

The higher version of British APD is charged when you depart Britain in any class above economy.

However, at present (this may change in the future, but it's true for September), US-based carriers such as UA and AA don't have a separate class for Premium Economy, they just have an "upsell" section of economy that has extra legroom and perhaps a bit extra recline.

Now, AA has an issue where if you don't have status, you can't reserve their Main Cabin Extra seats on award flights.

But AFAIK you can buy up to Economy Plus on United planes on United award bookings (but double check that).

Buying up to UA Economy Plus will be the cheapest alternative to regular economy, because it should not raise your British taxes by hundreds of dollars the way moving up to even just Premium Economy (as a separate cabin) does. Plus it uses less miles than booking a higher cabin.

Remember, on the flight back, it's a daytime flight.

Now, I don't know whether UA Economy Plus would be a big enough improvement for you, but I just wanted to include that for completeness as a low-cost way to improve a bit on the regular economy seat.

Last edited by sdsearch; Jun 1, 16 at 12:47 pm Reason: added "higher version of"
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